Now that it has been in service for a little while, it seems there are a few problems with he U.S. Army’s new Modular Handgun System, otherwise known as the SIG Sauer P320.
According to recently release Pentagon documents, there are some persistent problems with the pistol platform.
This story from guns.com says an annual fiscal report, which you can read here, was released by the Pentagon’s Office of the Director of Operational Test and Evaluation detailed safety concerns, double ejections, and stoppage issues with the XM17 and XM18 pistols, when used with certain ammunition.
The story also says that drop safety deficiencies were discovered by Army researchers during evaluations.
From the story:
“The report states that during drop testing of the Sig Sauer pistols, an empty primed cartridge would discharge if the striker was struck. Sig Sauer implemented an “Engineering Change Proposal” immediately after it was alerted to the drop safety issue, according to the report, eventually correcting the deficiency by tweaking the trigger group mechanism.”
The civilian P320 came under fire last August over drop safety concerns after it was shown that the pistol would discharge a primed cartridge when dropped at a certain angle. The company eventually issued a voluntary recall for the pistol.
Additionally, the Army experienced routine double ejections with the full-sized XM17 and compact XM18—this is when an unspent round is ejected alongside a spent casing. The DOD is currently investigating the issue.
As for the stoppages, most of these instances involved the slide failing to lock back after the last round was fired. Experts were quick to point out that this issue is most likely due to operator error, as a thumb touching the slide stop in a high-hand placement grip can easily prevent the slide from locking back—a problem I used to have with many pistols before I changed the position of my strong hand thumb.
So why are we just hearing about this now, after SIG won the 10-year, $580 million contract (which was challenged by Glock last year)?
“The problems noted by the office had not been previously disclosed by the Army or other entities involved in the Modular Handgun System’s development. Though the report was compiled from April through September of last year, it was not sent to Congress nor publicly released until January.”
Here’s the full list of problems with the XM17 and XM18 platforms:
• Double ejections of an unspent ball ammunition round along with a spent round during firing.
• A higher number of stoppages experienced by shooters with both the XM17 and XM18 handguns when fired with ball ammunition as compared to the special purpose ammunition.
• Both weapons failed to meet the Mean Rounds Between Stoppage reliability requirement with ball ammunition.
• Two trigger-splintering incidents that officials believe were related to an engineering change made by Sig Sauer to correct a drop test deficiency in which testers saw the weapon fire when dropped.
• More than half of the stoppages reported were likely caused by use of the Army Marksmanship Unit’s “high pistol grip” method, which can result in the shooter engaging the slide catch lever and cause the slide not to lock in the rear position.